After doing this eBay/Botcon tracking thing for two years I swore I would never do it again. There was already enough data to show that waiting a month to buy was best and buying before 10 days after Botcon was foolish. Then came last year's Botcon. One of the on-site sets didn't sell out, which meant the leftovers would turn up in the Club store for everyone. I decided to wait for that to show up, buy it, and then go over to eBay to pick up the other two sets and the extra Primus package toy. Once into eBay, I happened to glance through some of the completed listings just to see how well the pattern was holding up. To my horror, I saw this. Well, only the first two months or so of it actually: Oh crap! New data that contradicts the existing hypothesis. There's only one thing to do. Collect more data. For the TL;DR crowd, something I said in the 2010 thread was prophetic: "Characters seem to matter A LOT." Fun Pub did Optimus Prime of all things in one of the on-site sets rather than in the box. That changes everything. I think you can accurately compare this to the Megatron/Rodimus set from the first Shattered Glass year in 2008, BOTH of which turned out to be highly in demand. If you toss out Optimus and look at everything else from 2012, the original advice holds up pretty well. Most toys will come down in price after the initial weekend and first week. Most years that works for all the toys. I don't know if any other characters have this same superstar status. So, it's a bit of a judgement call. --- First, the fine print. Notes and observations. This time I only took records for things I was actually buying off eBay. That means no Octopunch/Spinister set, but eBay sales on that died as soon as the convention was over since at that point everybody knew it would be in the club store. I didn't buy or track the Soundwave headband either because Fub Pub promised a second run for the club store, which to my knowledge still hasn't happened (dammit). And of course the box set itself was ordered long before as an Iacon package. I got started late, so while I managed to get all the sold completed listings going back to just prior to Botcon, the unsold completed listings were unavailable to me until I got more caught up. That's why you don't see many in the charts prior to 70 days out. I also missed a handful of auctions, about three hour's worth, on April 28 (Botcon Saturday) as I ran hard up against the expiration of completed listings. The auctions during the convention are pretty dense though, so you'd never know if I hadn't told you. I decided to tracking Best Offer sales separately again, I figured out that the auction page shows the accepted price while the completed search listing entry shows the original BiN asking price. Stuff is still out the window for multiple item BiN/BO listings though so that's still just approximate/iffy data. Also other various anomalies in eBay reporting, so this data is reasonably correct but not 100%. Then a few months ago eBay changed the way the completed listing display, so Best Offer numbers are completely missing, all you get is what the Buy It Now asking price was. Oh well. As always, there is no distinction made by me for sealed vs. opened items, though you generally don't see opened stuff start getting listed until a long time after Botcon anyway. There's theoretically a slight price hit to opened ones, but really, when you are trying to get a Botcon toy and the options are slim, are you going to quibble over that? Again as always, I included non-USA auctions, with the money converted to US Dollars by the eBay system for whatever the exchange rate happened to be the day I looked at it. There was some Canada but after a while most of the foreign currency stuff is out of Europe, and the US Dollar equivalent cost they ask is far above what the US sellers want for the same item. A lot of the very high graph points are from these. Most of the sellers out of Asia and a good portion of the ones out of Canada actually do their listings in US Dollars. I learned a new lesson about searching these things, always use as many name variants as possible, especially when Fun Pub was unable to keep the name straight. Not just bard or darkmount but also straxus and spraxus. Not just kickover but kickoff, kickout, and kick by itself. Once again Almar Enterprises had a ridiculous portion of these sales. Who are these guys? Of course they weren't the only ones that popped up a lot. Another interesting aspect that doesn't show in the graphs and that I haven't mentioned before is seeing Buy It Now listings with multiple items drop in price over time. The seller comes back and edits the price down if they don't all sell quickly enough. And then the twisted reversal that I've not seen before this year, auctions of Optimus and the Optimus/Kick set being edited UP in price. Also not at all revealed by the graphs because the dots overlap are multiple item Buy It Now auctions in which several, sometimes ALL, of the toys offered up by the seller are bought at once by one person. Something I guess I haven't brought up before but that is certainly a factor while trying to buy these things, especially during the intial frenzy, for in-demand items But It Now listings that are low-to-fair priced generally disappear quickly after they go up. The graphs after the fact show that they happened but in the middle of things you will generally see the auction listings show much higher sale prices because those are the only ones that hang around long enough for everyone to get a shot at them. Selling during the Botcon weekend seems to break into two camps: Min bid under a dollar and take what you get, and Buy It Now for a price that is a shot in the dark. Also note that for the first 24 hours of Botcon only Buy It Now sales can happen until the 1 day auctions start coming to term. One of the questions this raised for me, say you have a high demand item, min bid $100, after a bidding war it sells for $160. Had it instead been listed min bid $150, do you expect it to sell for $160, $210, or in between? In an attempt to answer this I started recording the min bid amounts, shown on the graphs (with shipping costs taken into account) as small white bars. You can see on the graphs that further out from Botcon, low min bid and high min bid auctions tend to end up about the same, but the question is mainly about what happens during the frenzy of the first week, and I haven't made any unsquished graphs for that time period yet so I don't have the answer right now. I had thought that the 2011 set was a representation of a popular set, giving more of a TF line that was cut off in its prime (no pun intended) to eager fans, while 2012's looked to me to be a lackluster set, going back to the well of shattered glass was becoming tiresome and offered little that was special. I think the eBay sales that I saw in the end proved me wrong. I don't know if I just misjudge what the fans want or if the exclusives have just become habit for a lot of us regardless of what they actually are. The upcoming 2013 theme also doesn't have anything that strikes me as particularly amazing, but I'm sure the overall demand will be roughly the same as it's been these past few years. --- Okay, the graphs: The big smushed mess in the beginning is par for the course, nothing special there really, but other than a few outliers it absolutely never goes lower than the first week's 1 day and Buy It Now auctions. Even the initial leveled-off price becomes the new lower bound when prices start going up again later on. This is madness, but a madness entirely of our own doing. Breaking up the set became extra popular since people mainly cared about the Optimus. You can see the same initial leveling-off and subsequent new increase as with the pair, but much more clearly. Only in recent months have things showed a hint of dropping again, still topping the first-week prices but noticeably below what the prices were at their peak. You'll note the low min bid prices, something that has often been death for a seller after the initial frenzy for any other toy, are still in full effect. I bought mine for $153.15, which seemed like a lot at the time for a single deluxe out of a paired set given historical prices for those, but it was still on the low side compared to where prices went after that. I would say "Poor unwanted Kick-whatever", but the prices are remarkably steady. I think perhaps there isn't the usual drop because for once it failed to become substantially overpriced during the first week. $80-100 for a deluxe size exclusive that isn't particularly special has been pretty much the normal level-off price these past few years, maybe people had that in mind even during the frenzy. Though it's also hard to tell what factor being the bag-mate to Optimus Prime had on things. I paid $82.55. The Junkion trio, notable among recent troop builder three packs for having distinct heads rather than merely distinct bio cards. I would say this is entirely in pattern with what we've come to expect. You do see the quite noticeable drop in price for actual sold sets once you get past the first month or so. In fact people who waited several months have the advantage here. I bought mine for $185.66, just slightly prior to when the prices started dropping off. The extra toy for Primus people who actually made the trip out. Again pretty much exactly in pattern with the previous two years. Cost me $86.05. Again, like the Junkions, it got a little lower afterwards. Now that I have year-long records for two Botcons, it does seem like one to two months afterwards is smart, but three or more months afterwards is smarter. For everything except Optimus Prime, that is. Even though the field thins out quite a bit compared to the first two weeks, if you are paying attention all the opportunities are there. The customization class toy. As always, a mix of sellers that were actually there and sellers in China who have the main components related to the original mold but not the stickers and extra stuff. I seem to recall reading something about 2013's customization class toy also being produced assembled and will be offered up along with the other on-site exclusives. This is because the classes are so limited in capacity and so a lot of people have always missed out. I'm a little curious as to whether the experience of building the toy by hand is really that special or if people have just been mainly interested in the toy itself and whatever they have to do to get one. Maybe now we'll find out. (Though I have managed to get a hold of the kits for some of the previous year's custom class toys, this one didn't grab me I guess and I left it alone.) SDCC! Last year's San Diego Comic Con featured the deluxe zombie Cliffjumper, the huge and expensive (unprecedented compared to other TF SDCC exclusives of recent years) game-accurate-colored Bruticus, and the GI Joe crossover thing that I decided not to bother with even though it was super cool. Only Cliffjumper lasted long enough on the Hasbro online store for most everybody to have a chance to get him. Since I had to resort to eBay for Bruticus anyway, I figured, what the hell. The first thing you notice is SDCC is all about the presales. Botcon gets some preselling of the box sets too, but nothing like this. I'm quite certain the presales extend beyond where I was able to start taking records. Also, I gave up on the SDCC listings after a while, so it only extends to a month afterwards. I'm not sure how the sellers pull it off since as far as I know getting the exclusive on the SDCC show floor is usually itself really difficult, unlike Botcon where you know how many Primus tickets you've purchased. Reading the listings it's like they claim they are professional SDCC toy buyers. Given what I've heard about the lines, and having to win lotteries just to stand in some of the lines, these guys either represent a massive force of people or they have deals worked out. I guess if people get their toys in the end it's okay, but something still seems shady about it to me. Some state "we've never failed" others say "will refund (sometimes more than you paid) if we can't get one". There is something to be said for waiting for the "have it in hand" sellers. The other factor here is the statute of limitations on registering a complaint for an unreceived item is only 45 days. For this reason eBay rules explicitly state that any presale item must be expected to ship within 30 days of the sale date. I can't tell you how many sellers completely ignore this. Some even repeat the policy in the auction in order to imply or outright claim compliance with it, and then state that the item will ship out right after SDCC is over, despite SDCC being well over 30 days away at the time the auction went up. I read an example in the eBay help pages of a 10 day presale auction starting 39 days before the seller would have the item in hand and ready to ship. At least one seller tried to twist this into a claim that a multiple item Buy It Now listing that expires after 30 days can be up 60 days prior to shipping. Never mind the fact that with a Buy It Now the sale dates have nothing to do with the listing expires. I saw other listings that were put up even further than 60 days out anyway. Word to the wise, then, even though these guys are generally trustworthy and generally do follow through, don't preorder things on eBay more than 30 days out if you want to have the buyer protection you normally expect. So, the graphs? Being a veteran of Botcon graphs there's not too much to say here. Fairly tight clustering of prices for Bruticus presales that extends into the first week, then it goes up. I paid $195 for mine. For Cliffjumper, presale prices start to drop off before the show and continued to afterwards. I think there's an opportunity to make a similar "popularity-wise is this a normal exclusive or a 2012 Optimus Prime level exclusive?" judgement call here, and indeed Cliffjumper isn't THAT special while the game-accurate Bruticus is really the preferred one to have out of the four color schemes the set of molds were ultimately released in. People have gone similarly bonkers for both of the GI Joe/TF crossover sets so far and probably will again this year. However it's a little more clear cut. For Botcon if you don't make the trip out you are hostage to eBay for everything except the Box set, with the rare exception of on-site sets that don't sell out. For SDCC the people who stay home have a chance at all the exclusives at the online store, at least in theory. Assuming Hasbro at least tries to allocate a decent quantity of everything to the online store, if it sells out there in less than an hour you know to head straight to eBay before prices go up, which they definitely will. With Botcon, the first week frenzy on Optimus, the lowest prices would ever be, looks entirely the same at the first week frenzies of everything else, which for those are the highest prices would ever be. --- So, I hope that this time we've seen an example of every eventuality and I don't have to do this for any more Botcons or San Diego Comic Cons. If you're buying exclusive toys the idea of being frugal is sort of out the window anyway, but with some correct judgements and a little luck, you can keep your exclusive toys cost as low as possible. I think this year I may just wait until fall or winter to buy my Botcon toys, unless an Optimus or Megatron level character shows up. --- Addendum: The Club subscription Scourge showed up late last week. I decided to try my hand at this exclusives selling thing so I'm in for three subscriptions. Using what I've learned from all this eBay logging I put my two extra Scourges up over the weekend and am looking at a handy profit. These things cost a little under $50 each from the club when you break it down. After checking the running and completed auctions (there weren't very many yet at the time), I set up a 1 day auction for $100 min bid with $140 Buy It Now. The first one sold Buy It Now within a few hours, I relisted it, and the second one sold for over $160 to someone in Taiwan. Of course Scourge is the one character out of the six that is in the most demand. We'll see how the rest go. Hopefully I can at least break even on the low-demand ones. I think I'll take a gander at the running eBay costs for Scourge for a while but I hope I won't be tempted to start logging them. The subscription figures, much like the Botcon box sets, were pretty much available to anybody that wanted to preorder, but the box sets always sell on eBay along with everything else so these should be no different.